The American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) filed a complaint Friday against the United States Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) in connection with mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic at immigration detention centers . The trial is based on the Freedom of Information Act (âFOIAâ), 5 USC Section 552 and the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 USC Sections 2201 and 2202 force agencies to disclose relevant agency records.
In one public statement The ACLU reported on Friday that detention centers were hotspots for the pandemic, resulting in the deadliest year for ICE in 15 years. Eunice Cho, senior counsel for the ACLU’s National Prison Project, pointed out that the humanitarian crisis at these facilities has not received the attention it deserves. She said:
The abuse, neglect and degradation that our clients regularly face in ICE custody have only worsened since the start of the pandemic: this year alone, we have seen allegations of sexual abuse, increases use of force, the widespread use of isolation, the attempts of the ECI to minimize its role in deaths detained persons, and hunger strikes to protest the appalling conditions. The decisions and policies that ICE uses to guide it during this pandemic are a matter of life and death for the tens of thousands of people detained and the staff who work at these facilities. It is simply unacceptable that this agency thinks it can act with so little transparency and accountability.
According to the lawsuit, the ACLU legally and correctly requested the DHS and ICE records and did not receive the requested records. All recordings are files accessible in accordance with the law established by the FOIA. The two specific claims in the lawsuit are as follows: Claim 1 is for a violation of FOIA for failure to conduct adequate research for reactive records. Claim II is another FOIA violation for wrongly withholding sensitive non-exempt recordings.